Interview: Sharp UK, Security Excellence Awards finalist

'We make technology easy by listening, taking the time to understand our clients, and creating seamless solutions that work'

clock • 4 min read
Simon Jefferies, Director of Technology at Sharp UK
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Simon Jefferies, Director of Technology at Sharp UK

With the rising frequency and complexity of cyber threats, cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for not only governments and organisations, but also individuals.

Computing's Security Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the best in cybersecurity innovation and excellence.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday, 2nd May in London.

Sharp UK, one of the finalists, has reached the shortlist for two categories: SME Security Solution Award and Managed Security Award.

We talked to Simon Jefferies, Director of Technology at Sharp UK, to find out what makes his company different from other technology companies and what were their biggest challenges in the last 12 months.

Simon has over 20 years of experience working in IT Services for Managed Service Providers. Simon joined Sharp UK in 2006 as a Technical Consultant and over the years has progressed to Director of Technology. With a deep understanding of SME client needs, Simon is responsible for evaluating vendors and the latest technology Sharp UK can offer their clients. Simon also has expertise on the evolution of cloud technology and changing client requirements.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers. What makes you different from other companies?

Simon Jefferies: At Sharp UK we know the tech landscape is far from simple, so for over 100 years we've been inventing one-of-a-kind products for the benefit of global business and society. Here in the UK, we know every client is unique, that's why our solutions are tailored to meet their specific needs. We make technology easy by listening, taking the time to understand our clients, and creating seamless solutions that work. Sharp UK employs over 700 people and has 15 regional offices across the UK.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

SJ: We continuously talk to our clients about aligning their systems, business, and processes to a security framework. A well-known UK framework is Cyber Essentials, which we are proud to have been helping our clients implement.

However, recently we wanted to enhance our Cyber Essentials offering, that's why in the past 12 months we have developed and launched Cyber Essentials as a Service, utilising technology dedicated to monitoring user endpoint devices for compliance, all year round.

To deliver this new service, we partnered with CyberSmart who have developed and built technology for this. Their platform allows us to proactively monitor endpoints which are constantly checked for compliance, allowing us to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.

Why are events like the Security Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

SJ: Cybersecurity is key for every organisation, whether it is users asking for a password change or a full system migration. Therefore, we believe we must strive to offer innovative security solutions that continuously evolve to help organisations and our clients improve their defences against cyberattacks.

That's why the Security Excellence Awards, are an essential avenue to recognise the achievements and innovations of the IT industry when it comes to security. The awards are also an important way to recognise the people, services, and projects delivered that continue to contribute to security enhancements across the IT industry. Winners of these awards benefit from enhanced credibility and trust as a renowned security provider.

The awards are also a great way to see what other security leaders like Sharp UK are doing, as well as network with others passionate about security enhancements so we can come away with learnings and ideas to bring added value to our clients.

What have been the biggest challenges of 2023 so far and how have you overcome them?

SJ: Cyber threats are getting more sophisticated by the day. Bad actors perform attacks against our systems and us as individuals, especially with the use of AI. The challenge is keeping ahead of AI-based attacks, evolving what we do, and how we help our clients to protect them against cyberattacks. It's not only security solutions that we have to evolve, but also the end user education for our clients' users.

What do you see as the main opportunities for the IT industry in the coming year? How do you plan to capitalise on those opportunities?

SJ: The main opportunities come from AI, specifically for our clients, Microsoft Copilot. However, there is a lot to consider preparing for with AI and Copilot, security being a large part of that. AI is on an upward trajectory, and we have seen interest from our clients and prospects.

We undertake activity to help educate our clients on what they need to do to ensure the security of their data with the use of AI. We have our own Cyber Security Audit service which has been adapted to include an AI Readiness Assessment. With this, we evaluate key security considerations and provide recommendations on how their data should be secured before considering the implementation of AI. We have uncovered that many organisations aren't considering how they should prepare.

The Security Excellence Awards will take place on Thursday, 2nd May in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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